International Wine Challenge

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About International Wine Challenge

The International Wine Challenge (IWC) owned by William Reed Business Media is now in its 35th year. The IWC is accepted as the world's finest and most meticulously judged wine competition which assesses every wine blind and judges each for its faithfulness to style, region and vintage Throughout the rigorous judging processes, each medal winning wine is tasted on three separate occasions by at least 10 different judges and awards include medals (Gold, Silver, Bronze) and Commended awards

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The International Wine Challenge Digital Newsroom is a simple and useful resource for you to keep track of all the latest news stories. High resolution images and complete press releases are available to download from here, and you can connect with our various social media profiles easily. Suggestions for improvements are welcome.

Contact Details

Elly Barham-Marsh Helen Kenny
Manifest London
t. +44 (0)203 1379 270

International Wine Challenge

World’s biggest Sake competition, International Wine Challenge Sake announces 2016 Champion following 10th year of success

International Wine Challenge names its Champion Sake of the Year at prestigious dinner in London

The world’s biggest Sake competition, International Wine Challenge, today unveils its 2016 Champion Sake following its most successful year on record.

  • The IWC Champion Sake 2016, sponsored by Japan Airlines, was awarded to Dewazakura Dewanosato, which beat tough competition from a world record of 1281 entries. This youthful dry-style Junmai Sake was a huge hit with the international panel of 57 judges who were seduced by its fresh green apple notes and blend of subtle spice flavours.
  • Yamagata brewery, Dewazakura had a standout year at the competition. Its success at the competition, which also included winning three IWC Sake Trophies, three Gold medals and three Silver medals, culminated in the brewery being named IWC Sake Brewer of the Year 2016, sponsored by competition host The Prefecture of Hyogo. In further recognition of its on-going success, the brewery was also named IWC Brewery of the Decade in a presented by Governor Ido in Hyogo in May.
  • Dewazakura is also the first Sake brewery to win Champion Sake twice. The last time was in 2008 for their Dewazakura Ichiro.
  • The IWC Sake also named its Great Value Sake Award 2016, which gives centre stage to Sake available at modest prices. To qualify for a Great Value Award, entries must receive a Gold or Silver medal at the competition and be available nationwide for less than ¥1,000 Yen (approximately £7) for 720ml. This year’s prize, sponsored by Sake Samurai Association, went to Watanabe Shuzouten Komachizakura. The subtle aromas of white flowers and rockmelon, combined with its refined texture ensured its success at the competition. In addition to its Great Value Award, the brewery also received two IWC Sake Trophies, two Gold medals and an impressive seven Silver medals.
  • These prestigious prizes were presented at the annual IWC Awards Dinner last night, where over 750 representatives from the wine and Sake trade came together to hear the big winners of 2016 announced.
  • Today’s announcement completes the most successful year of the IWC Sake competition, which was held in May in Hyogo to celebrate the 10th Anniversary between in the IWC and the Sake Samurai Association. The IWC worked in partnership with the Prefecture of Hyogo and long-term partner Sake Samurai Association and Japan Airlines to ensure this unique and prestigious competition was a resounding success.
  • The competition received more entries than ever before, with 1282 Sakes being blind tasted by a panel of 57 judges from 14 countries, making it not only the world’s largest Sake competition, but also the most international. IWC Sake judges awarded a total of 37 trophies, 57 Gold medals, 196 Silver medals and 245 Bronze medals. Entries were received from Japan, Norway and USA as the popularity of Sake continues to spread worldwide.
  • Sake exports have more than doubled in the last 10 years and its popularity has spread across the globe.
  • Visit the IWC website for the full list of winners:


New Sake Samurai President Kazuhiro Maegaki of the Sake Samurai Association commented:

“These Sake Champions should be immensely proud of their huge achievement. No other Sake event is as competitive or rigorously judged so this recognition demonstrates the artistry of these world-class breweries. Dewazakura has proven itself to be the master of Sake production, while Watanabe’s Great Value Sake demonstrates how you can find exquisite Sake to suit a modest budget.”

Andrew Reed, MD of the International Wine Challenge commented:

“This year’s Sake competition has been the most successful the world has ever seen. Not only did we receive more entries than ever before, we also brought together the largest collection of international Sake experts from all corners of the globe. We are committed to raising the profile of Sake around the world, and working with our esteemed partners Sake Samurai to ensure that the thirst for this enticing drink continues to grow.”

“We would again like to thank the Prefecture of Hyogo for hosting this very special event, and we hope to be back in Japan with the competition in the near future.”


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